“No man, however he may talk, has the remotest idea of what an ordinary soldier endures!”
So said a veteran, Sgt. H. Green.
Standing at Lochnagar today and looking out onto these peaceful fields, visitors try to imagine what those fighting men went through. These words would suggest it is simply beyond our imagination.
People come here now under very different circumstances, they read contemporary accounts of those men, read War Diaries, and Official Histories, in an attempt to understand what went on throughout those four terrible years of 1914 to 1918. Some may have had conversations with grandfathers or with veterans who may have gone through this maelstrom time and time again.
For many this daily trauma had profound consequences and could result in ‘Shell Shock’, or as we know it, ‘Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder’. This debilitating condition affects one’s mental and physical wellbeing, but during the Great War when psychiatry was very much in its infancy, little was understood of the effects of prolonged exposure to battle, stress and fear.
It is perhaps no wonder, that many were so emotionally scarred by the war and lived long years with intensely painful memories. These men were often unable to speak of it to their loved ones, choosing to protect them from the horrors of their experience.
Dr. Charles McMoran Wilson (later Lord Moran – Churchill’s doctor) said “Men wear out in war like clothes”.
Might some, simply have worn out more quickly than others?